My 2nd grade teacher used to hold a weekly poetry reciting contest. Each 7/8 year old would recite the same poem, and then the class would vote on their favorite version. It was supposed to help us with our public speaking. I still remember my first attempt -- disaster. I forgot the words, asked repeatedly to start over and turned BRIGHT red with shame. As I returned to my desk, tears welled up in my eyes. "Never again," I thought. I would be prepared next time... and Mrs. Gonzales wouldn't know what hit her.
So one Wednesday later, there I was again, standing in front of the class. This time, in trying to make the public humiliation as painless as possible, I shut my eyes and said the aforementioned Shel Silverstein lyrics at lightening speed. Before I could open my eyes, the class burst out with laughter and started to cheer. Apparently my embarrassment-reducing tactic turned out to be entertainment. I won first place. And each week thereafter, the other kids looked forward to my turbo version of the poem.
So this post is my tribute to the much admired, and missed, Mr. Silverstein. Thank you for helping me conquer my fear of public speaking.